When it comes down to it, heart function is something most people take for granted every day of their lives. You go to sleep at night and expect to wake up, without complications. And the only reason for that is because your heart ticks over like a well-oiled machine, no matter how you prioritize your health.
However, there comes a point where your heart can start to take strain based on your health and daily habits. It’s not indestructible. Then there’s also the possibility of heart defects, such as heart valve problems that you’re either born with or can develop over time.
With this in mind, what are the signs of heart valve problems to look out for? This blog breaks it down for you.
Heart Valve Problems: How Do They Happen?
Your heart is an incredibly powerful muscle that works to keep you alive 24/7. It does not get a ”rest day” — instead, it plods on throughout our daily lives without fail. But for some people, the function of the heart is a little more complicated.
Your heart is comprised of four primary valves that all work in unison to ensure blood flows in the right direction around your body. These valves include:
- The mitral valve
- Tricuspid valve
- Pulmonary valve
- Aortic valve
Typically, each valve and its flaps open and close once for every heartbeat. But sometimes, these valves experience dysfunction of their own, preventing them from opening and closing as they should.
Ultimately, this can disrupt the blood flow around your body and many other related functions. As mentioned, some people are born with a heart valve disorder. One of the most common is atrial fibrillation (AFIB). Is it hereditary? You can learn more here.
Other heart valve issues may arise due to a number of different causes, but most of the time, they’re related to heart disease and infection. Some of the most common heart valve issues include:
The heart valve leaflets thicken over time. They may also become stiff and fuse together. This results in a narrow valve opening and limited blood flow through the heart.
One or more heart valves are not quite fully formed and a sheet of tissue blocks off the blood flow between your heart chambers.
The heart valves fail to close properly which results in blood leaking back into your heart chambers. This condition results from swollen heart valves that cause this type of prolapse.
What Are the Signs of Heart Valve Problems?
Whether you come from a history of heart disease or not, it’s always wise to know the symptoms to look out for that indicate your ticker could be struggling. Most of the time, symptoms of a heart valve disorder vary depending on the exact problem and how severe it is.
Here are four stand-out signs to watch for that could indicate a problem:
1. Shortness of Breath
If you find that you’re plagued by shortness of breath in your day-to-day life, even when not exercising or exerting yourself, this is something you want to get checked out.
2. Random Heart Palpitations
The top sign of a healthy heart is that you hardly notice that it’s there. It should beat away without interruption or cause for concern. But if you start experiencing random or rapid heart palpitations that concern you, it’s time for a heart checkup.
3. Chest Pain
The same goes for a persistent or stabbing type of chest pain that you just can’t explain. If this chest pain bothers you on a daily basis, you want to get things checked out.
4. Constant Fatigue
While it’s normal to feel some measure of fatigue throughout the day, your fatigue should not be chronic or debilitating if you’re in good health. If you’re struggling with persistent, chronic fatigue, get your heart function assessed.
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